Milan! Florida! Arizona!

I  talked to a very pleasant person, today, in a shop in Rathmines. She remarked that she’d not seen me in a while. She then began to tell me that she was jaded tired. I said, ‘why would a young person like you be complaining of tiredness?’ She then proceeded to tell me about her recent trip to Milan. My face automatically lit up with the mention of a city I’d travelled to in my youth. A city that was famous for fashion.

Her parents had presented her with a fortnight’s holiday voucher to Milan for her fiancé and herself in celebration of her forthcoming 30th birthday. Apparently her mother’s mother had also presented the latter with a holiday gift to Milan when she turned thirty. So history was repeating itself. How lovely… well maybe not for all of the time spent there?

You see, the main reason she was tired – aside from travelling – was because they’d not got any proper sleep at the hotel on the last night of their wonderful holiday. Sleep was of the essence, as they were due to travel home to Ireland early the next morning. Abigail (not her real name) had been woken up in the very early hours of the morning to fierce shaking of the bed. She instantly turned to her beloved and asked him what on earth was he doing, as the shaking was interrupting her sleep? She was perplexed and puzzled. He looked at her askance and interjected, I was just about to ask you the very same thing? They both sat up and got terribly worried and began to feel superstitious as one would be won’t to in the middle of the night when one’s senses are hyper-alert. As the whole hotel felt like it was being tilted. Not only the bed. This wasn’t the tower of Piza! They came to the conclusion that the posh hotel must be haunted? They realised that something was terribly amiss, as they were both now experiencing the hotel rattling away, not only the bed.

It was all sorted out next morning when they learned from a very friendly hotel staff member that there was an earthquake.  By all accounts, they had never experienced a real live earthquake in their entire lives, or if they did – it would not have been anything like the one they experienced that night in Milan. Abigail was re-experiencing the whole thing as she was telling me all about it. I reminded her that the earth-shattering night will be forever etched in their memories and they’ll hopefully recount the story when they buy a holiday ticket for their adult children’s thirtieth birthday.

Her boss peeped from behind the curtain and then proceeded to tell me that she had just returned from Florida where her family had rented a house for a month. They were stunned by the size of it and the vastness of everything in general. She remarked at how tiny everything was in comparison to Ireland – the people; the houses and especially the cars. I told her that it has been a well-known fact, since the time of Methuselah that everything in America was bigger and better. Sure, aren’t these familiar stories recounted by ancestors when they’ve returned from the land of plenty.

I told her that I believed that despite the fun and sun tag that’s synonymous with Florida, that there is also from what I read, anyway, a murkier religious conservative bible belt bashing going on beneath the sandy surfaces of the county. Take for example the above billboard in Tampa. The boss totally agreed with me and said that now that I’d mentioned it that she’d noticed massive religious billboards in places calling people to prayer. Yep, I said, we have the Angelus calling us to prayer and they have posters doing something similar. Indoctrination tactics are thriving everywhere. Abigail, said, ah, but is Ireland not after getting a rude awakening these last few years and aren’t we much wiser and bold and we’re not going to be ruled by religion as we were in the past. I then said that Ireland is such a tiny drop in the religious ocean and we’ll not be missed. Proselytism is alive and well in other continents of the world. Besides, Roman Catholicism has also taken a leaf out of the other churches and has introduced its own tough brand of Evangelism. It intends to give Europe a large dose of it to quieten it down. It can’t have its past patriotic observant obedient flock turning down the wild secular road.

The young boss went on to say that the overseers of the property were very meticulous about the bins at the house, in fact, she thought they were superbly rigid. They had to be left out/taken in at an allotted time and no sooner or later than that specified time or there would be blue murder. We all chuckled, and thought the same thought with our body language in unison, could you just visualise that sort of thing occurring in Ireland, where most people don’t give a damn about things like that at all. I reminded them that there would be that sort of rigidity in Switzerland and Germany. It didn’t deter the boss and her family from returning to Florida, which they absolutely adore.

We went on to talk about Frankfurt am Mainz, Bavaria, Japan, China, Norway, Iceland and then we were brought back to earth.

I got a message for a woman who is ninety years old, and when I delivered it to her, she said would you like a nice cup of tea, as I would like to tell you all about my recent holiday to my daughter who resides in Arizona. Whaaaaaaat, I cried out in a squeaky voice, you mean to tell me that you’ve just returned from Arizona in America? Yes, she cried. She quickly went indoors and came out to show me a religious painting that she bought whilst there. It had all the Roman Catholic iconoclastic saintly figures in the painting. I knew the most off them, such as the last pope, the one before him again; the Fatima children, Therese of Liseux whom I was called after, St. Clare; St. Teresa of Avila, who was called a doctor of the church… the list was endless. I shall google to see where exactly the painting was created. When I think of Arizona I think of a massive dessert. Wow – there’s hope for me yet.

Now… if there are any more travellers wanting to tell me all about their travels tales I’ll be all ears. I just love listening and learning all about different places and cultures.

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